Most dogs love a trip in the car. But as pet owners, we sometimes forget their safety when we buckle up and take off. Here are some tips for pet-friendly car travel.
- Some dogs don’t enjoy travelling in the family car. For nervous travellers there are things you can do to alleviate their anxiety. Help your dog get comfortable in the car before you go anywhere. Help her into the car and sit with her for a few minutes. You can reward her for getting into the car, and staying still while she’s in there, with pats, soothing words and little treats. Then take her for short, slow drives around the neighbourhood to help her get used to car travel.
- The laws on restraining dogs in cars vary around the country, but many states require you to restrain your dog while she’s in the car. Whatever the law, it’s a good idea to restrain your dog, as it stops her from moving around the vehicle. This is good for the driver – dogs have been known to jump onto the driver’s lap while the car is moving – and if there is a crash, an unrestrained dog can be extremely dangerous to the car’s occupants. It’s also for the dog – unrestrained dogs have died from jumping out of car windows.
- There are a few options for restraining pets. A car harness, which fits onto the seatbelt, is a good idea, but be sure to buy the correct size for your pet. And always keep your pet on the back seat, as dogs can be killed by airbags in an accident. In a station wagon or van, you might want to put your pet in a crate or container. Be sure she can stand and move around easily in a crate, and that it is well ventilated. If you do plan to use a crate, make sure she is used to it before setting off on a long car trip.
- Remember, never let your dog hang out the car window and never leave her in a locked car – even on a cool day, cars can become very hot and dogs can quickly die from becoming overheated.
- If you are taking a long trip, ensure you pull over regularly to allow your dog to stretch her legs, and have a drink and a toilet break.
- It’s also a good idea to take poo bags, snacks and towels along for long trips.
- Pop on her lead and keep a good grip on it before you open the car door. Dogs have been known to leap out of cars and run off once the doors are open. Which is also why it’s a good idea to ensure your dog is registered and microchipped.